Goedemorgen Den Haag!

Or Good morning Hague!

No matter how difficult is for one to learn to write Dutch, it is infinitely easier than trying to speak Dutch or even listening to Dutch.

When I was a child and my mom could not understand what I was mumbling about, not that now she fully understands, she used to say that I spoke Chinese. Little did she know… Compared to Dutch, something tells me Chinese is easy.

Having said that, the people of Holland are very proud of their language. All the signs are only in Dutch and in all the restaurants the menu is, of course, in Dutch. Call it cultural immersion on steroids.

Do you want to know what you will eat? Tough luck! Exercise the power of faith. And put your trust in the culinary taste of the Dutch people.

But, there is one word I really wanted to learn. No, it is not the famous “I love you” or, the less famous one, “Shit!” Although, both could be quite useful, spoken separately or, together.

It is stroopwaffel, which is a delicious Dutch cake made out of caramel.

Once you have one, you go for another one, and another one, and one last one. I promise.

That, of course, if the Dutch cheese doesn’t arrive first. Because then, the cycle repeats itself. One piece and another one and a few more, please, I beg you…

Dutch people eat their cheese with mustard or figs. To each type of cheese, a certain kind of mustard corresponds. As unusual as it might sound, the combination tastes quite good.

But it has a strong contender: the fresh Dutch mussels found in all the supermarkets cooked with garlic and fresh basil. Now we are in business!

After such daily feasts, no wonder one needs to exercise. Nothing easier. In The Hague, you can find bikes and bike lanes everywhere. Literally. No footpath? Why would you need one?

Biking is a real option in Holland. People go to work by bike, go between villages by bike, go shopping by bike, and of course, why not, take their dogs for a walk on the bike.

You might have associated Holland with windmills, but times change and now, you clearly should consider associating Holland with a big, big love for biking.

It makes economical sense as well. One way trip by tram is 3 euros. You can buy their Ov- chipcards and it can get cheaper, but still trams and trains are expensive.

Changing topics, we move on to toilets.

For me, wherever I go, their design and their availability is a point of interest. If in Monte Carlo they are clean and all over the place, in the Netherlands they are just incredibly expensive: it starts from 50 cents and it goes up to a whooping 1 euro. So one needs to get creative, abstain from drinking or be well-informed. Because there is one restaurant which I simply loved and its name is Simonis. It does not look like much from the outside, but it is one of the best fish restaurants you could go to and guess what, Simonis does offer free toilets!

It is close to the famous Scheveningen Beach, a beautiful wide beach packed with cozy and elegant restaurants where the Dutch are stubborn enough to go to, no matter the weather. In fact, the beach seems to be even more popular during the cold weather. Armed with warm sweaters, blankets, and wine, Spatlese nahe being my favorite, people sit on the beach, dance and listen to live music.

Despite the cold weather or the super tiny flats, the Hague has the charm of an international city.

It is named the legal capital of the world and more than 150 international organisations have their headquarters here.

Peace Palace too. Home to International Court of Justice and the Permanent Court of Arbitration, it is an impressive and beautiful building. In the Japanese Room, each state has its own beautifully design seat for which it pays 25000 Euros per year. The ones who cannot afford the fee have regular chairs. Obviously, less beautiful and more to the back.

At the entrance of the palace, on the marble floor, there is the famous Latin dicton: Sol Justitia ilustra nos, meaning justice should shine above us all. In other words, each State needs justice and peace to progress. How those can be achieved, this is a topic for another day.


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